Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Clear and Unambiguous

When I saw this picture on Zach Nielsen’s blog (Take Your Vitamin Z), I couldn’t take my mind off it. As you can tell, the sign serves as a warning—bluntly, succinctly and to the point. It clearly communicates its message, is free from ambiguity and is universal in its application. It does not waste space with superfluous information.

It’s awfully plain though. Its message might have been more entertaining, using contemporary illustrations from TV and movies. It might have been flashier, using the latest multimedia technology. It might have been more practical, and dealt with things like the weather, current events or politics. It certainly could have used a joke or two to lighten the mood a little bit. But that would have only been if the sign’s purpose was to call attention to itself.

As it stands, the sign’s purpose is clearly not to call attention to itself. The sign’s purpose is to call attention to what lies ahead. It is to stand as a clear and unambiguous warning to all who pass that way. The message is clear—if you continue in your present direction, in your present state, the consequences will be severe.

I wonder if the message is equally clear and unambiguous from the pulpit of the little brick church in the picture.

As I prepare for next Sunday’s messages, I pray that I remember that my purpose is the same as that sign’s. As a preacher of the Gospel, my purpose is not to entertain. My purpose is not to be flashy. My purpose is not even to give “practical” advice. My purpose is to proclaim the Word. My purpose is to point to Jesus and call attention to Him.

Lord, grant that I may be as clear and plain as that sign.

1 Timothy 4:16

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is a special day. It’s not a national holiday or a religious festival. It’s not a famous anniversary or day of remembrance, but it’s still a special day. Today is special because it is my mother’s birthday. I won’t tell you which birthday, because I would like for tomorrow to be special as well.

Along with my wife, my mom is the strongest woman I know. She has allowed Christ to shine through her life in good times and bad and has served as a living testimony to the truth of James 1:2-4. Through circumstances that would destroy most people, she has stood firm and strong in the grace of her Rock and Sustainer.

Each day of her life is a living testimony of God’s grace. The grace of God in her life shines through in her devotion to Christ and her witness to others. It shines through in her care for the children she teaches in public school as the only gospel many of those children will see. It shines through in her care for her homebound mother who most of the time remembers who she is--and that's about all. It shines through in her care for her Bible Drill and Sunday School kids. And it shines through in her care for her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

“Her children [and grandchildren] arise up and call her blessed…”

Happy Birthday Mom!

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fathers, Teach Your Children

I pastor a church with a vibrant children's ministry. We have age-graded Sunday School and mission classes as well as a thriving AWANA program. Vacation Bible School, Fall Festivals and block parties are the outreach highlights of our church calendar.

In addition to our children's ministries, our youth ministries are fantastic.  We have an outstanding group of young people who are involved in every area of church life, from teaching, to ministry, to leading congregational worship. 

Despite our focus and prayerful dedication to reaching and discipling children and students, we are fighting an uphill battle.  We neither coddle nor consumerize our children--our programs are not entertainment driven--yet we still lose them at an alarming rate. 

I have noticed three times of significant drop-off.  We lose many as soon as they enter the "tween" years and we lose many more toward the middle of high school.  Several more drop out after high school. 

One pattern consistently emerges as I reflect on the children we have lost over the years.  The vast majority of them have either been dropped off at church or we have brought them in on our van.  Some were brought by their grandparents or even their mothers.  I can recall none of the children we have lost being brought to church by their fathers.  This article by Robbie Low in Touchstone Magazine highlights that fact. The points he brings out are both fascinating and terrifying and the article is well-worth reading.

Dads--do you want your children to grow up with a solid foundation? Do you want them to understand the value and purpose of hard work, family and community? Do you want them to be able to withstand temptation and not fall into the traps of drugs, alcohol, teenage pregnancy and rebellion?  Do you want them to become good spouses and parents and have long and happy marriages?  Then get up off of your backside and take them to church.  Don't just drop them off. Don't just call the church van to come get them. Don't just send them with their mother or their grandparents.  If at all possible, find a way to get up and go with them. The more effort they see you putting into taking them to church, the more value they will place on it.  They will never recognize the importance of church attendance unless they see it is important to YOU.

Dads, if you are faithful to take your children to church, can I guarantee that nothing awful will ever happen to them? Of course not.  Sometimes good, faithful Christians do dumb things too.  But what I can guarantee you is that they will understand and learn to value what is really important.  And they will truly begin to value it, not just from your words, but from your actions.

Proverbs 22:6

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